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Difference Between Wainscoting and Beadboard

chloebud
March 7, 2014
Am I right in thinking they're basically different styles of paneling? Beadboard usually comes with the verticle grooves? Maybe a little less formal? Is it just a matter of taste to use one or the other in a bathroom and laundry room? I'm thinking of a more cottage style look for our laundry room and half bath.

Comments (18)

  • PRO
    Lori Dennis, ASID, LEED AP
    Wainscot is pieces of moulding that are put together, generally in boxes, below the chair rail. Beadboard is a sheet of wood/plywood that has grooves on it and is used over the entire wall or parts of it,. ie under the chair rail, as backsplash. For cottage style in the laundry room use beadboard, wainscot is formal and something you'd see on stairs on in a dining room.
  • PRO
    Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
    Hi Chloe -- Bead board is a type of material - v-grooved wood, tongue and-grooved to put slats of material together, making a grooved surface. ...can be stained or painted. Often seen on older porch ceilings (in fact, often called "beaded porch ceiling") - and - on lower portions of walls, where it is a form of wainscoting. This word refers to the installation of wood material (in various forms) on the lower sections of walls.

    You are right... bead board often contributes a homey look in cottage-style design. ...and yes, panelized wainscot is generally seen as a bit more formal. Best Wishes... Mark
  • PRO
    Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
    ...as Lori mentions, a sheet of material with grooves cut in it to resemble old-style bead board is a more economical, less "groovey" surface - easier to maintain in a laundry room - if a bit less "authentic" looking.

    For an idea of what I think of as more formal wainscoting, look at the lower wall sections shown on our houzz home page, titled Craftsman Comfort.
  • chloebud
    Thanks so much, Lori and Mark. That confirms what I was thinking...will probably go with the less formal bead board.
  • chloebud
    Forgot to ask...any guidelines for the height of the bead board? Maybe even with the sink backsplash?
  • PRO
    Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
    Traditionally, dining room wainscot is installed with a chair rail at its top - at chair-back height, to prevent wall damage. Your top-of-the-backsplash height is pretty typical, too. Keep it below switches-outlets. Mark
    chloebud thanked Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
  • chloebud
    Thanks again, Mark. In that case, we'll probably have to move some of the switches/outlets.
  • PRO
    Al Fortunato Furnituremaker
    Traditional bead board was single boards about 3/4" - 1" thick (plywood types are a modern invention), with a bead milled onto one edge (hence bead (on the) board). Also had tongue and groove for putting the pieces together and beveled on each face edge to give a v-groove when the pieces are put together. In fact I'm currently doing a project for a client using some reclaimed heart pine bead board from a silo. Big stuff; 6-8" wide, 1.5" thick, and long.
    chloebud thanked Al Fortunato Furnituremaker
  • PRO
    Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
    I'd be hesitant to go to the effort of moving switches and outlets. Should be fine simply to stop the material below these obstacles, since there is no "correct" height for the wainscot. Mark
    chloebud thanked Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
  • chloebud
    Mark, I think it should work fine in the bathroom. Not sure about the laundry room...there's a HIGH tile backsplash around the deep sink in there. Top of the backsplash is 48" from the floor There's a switch right next to the backsplash, and the bottom of it is 40" from the floor. Will it look odd to have the tile higher than the bead board?
  • jkl3
    We already have bead board ( traditional) in hallway. It's 42" high including moulding. We are redoing powder room right off the hallway with MDF bead board and because the 42" cuts into the middle of the switch plates the carpenter suggested going above switch plate which makes the powder room bead board 4 " taller than the hallway. Is that a nono - instead of moving the electrical? I'm not happy with the contrast. What are your thoughts. Thanks.
    chloebud thanked jkl3
  • chloebud
    jkl3, thanks for asking...I'd like to know, too!
  • PRO
    Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
    Seems to me that the "wainscot issue" in each of these situations needs to be looked at in its overall setting.

    Chloe, without seeing a photo, I think that with your high splash tile above the laundry sink the room might look best if the wainscot does NOT run up to the same height. No reason it should do so - and the difference may well let each element show off a bit better. ( I always think white bead board looks best with a nicely contrasting paint color above it - something with some zip to it.)

    jkl, Do you really want beadboard in both the hallway and the adjacent powder room? ...even apart from the switch-plate-height issue ...maybe consider doing this little room with a paint or paper decor that contrasts with the hallway, rather than trying to continue it? Just a thought.

    Best Wishes to you both! Mark
    chloebud thanked Someone's in the Kitchen, Inc.
  • jkl3
    Thank you for such a quick response. Not a bad idea.
  • chloebud
    Mark, thanks again...wish I had you on speed dial.
  • Fred S
    If you need to switch heights in one room, try doing a picture or plate rail instead of a chair rail.
    chloebud thanked Fred S
  • jkl3
    Still working on it, Fred. Thanks for another idea.
  • PRO

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